Area Development
{{RELATEDLINKS}}When looking for new sites, food processing facilities typically want to be in operation in 6-12 months. To reduce the time involved, companies often limit their search to sites with existing buildings that can be retrofitted, but may be less than ideal in the long-term.

Concentrating a search only on conventional locations may lead companies to overlook the truly unique advantages offered by Native American reservations. Many federally recognized tribes can offer unparalleled tax advantages, incentives, and project fast-tracking abilities that most states, counties, and municipalities simply cannot. Any hesitancy may come from a lack of understanding of how reservations work. However, if companies look for reservations with an established agricultural supply chain, close proximity to workforce and transportation, and an in-house development and approval process to speed projects to market, even a build-to-suit facility can be completed in a short time frame.

This is what attracted Hickman’s Family Farms to the Ak-Chin Indian Community’s industrial park, Santa Cruz Commerce Center, in 2003. Located in Arizona’s agricultural heartland with its own successful farming operation, Ak-Chin offered Hickman’s advantages that never expire — like accelerated depreciation, low electric costs provided by the reservation’s own utility, and a structured lease that allowed for construction costs to be amortized over the length of the lease. As a result, Hickman’s built its first phase in 10 months and has expanded two times since.

When it comes to lowering long-term costs, considering locations like Ak-Chin’s Santa Cruz Commerce Center certainly is food for thought